Barely a week goes by without another article on the ongoing war between millennials and the property market. Rocketing house prices and stagnating wages class us as "Generation Rent", and the housing market could become even harder to crack after the Brexit... While some experts say it'll make house prices drop, this isn’t necessarily a good thing for first-time buyers, as it means homeowners are less likely to sell their houses at a loss.
To make matters worse, the BBC recently commissioned a report which found that we’ve basically already been priced out of the government’s Help to Buy scheme – the initiative designed to help young people get on the property ladder by offering them a tax-free savings account with a cash bonus towards a housing deposit.
In most parts of the UK however, the average price of a first-home was found to exceed the maximum price limit the scheme places on the properties applicable. The BBC found that “average asking prices exceed the cap in 67% of areas in the South East, 65% in London, 61% in the South and 53% in the East.” Interestingly, this compared to just 5% of areas in “the North East, the Midlands, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.”
It seems the problem is that wages and house prices just aren’t matching up. A report by insight company KPMG last year found that a first-time buyer there would need to be earning a staggering £77,000 to afford a house in London, compared to £41,000 for the rest of the UK. But both figures are out of reach for many people in the millennial age bracket of 18-35 with government data showing that this age group typically earns between just £12,000 and £26,000.
When you’ve become accustomed to spending over half your salary on rent in London, it’s easy to feel jaded and presume that young people in other cities enjoy a two-bed semi-detached with outdoor space. But there are other monetary factors at play, not least the local job market, the golden question of whether you’re subscribed to the “bank of mum and dad”, and whether you even have the will to try and save up for a house in the face such a tough financial climate.
Ahead, we talk to six people from different cities in the UK to ask whether it’s actually any easier trying to get on the property ladder outside of London, what individual problems they face, and perhaps most importantly, what solutions they’re trying to come up with. What quickly becomes clear from talking to people is that, despite what the media would have us believe, millennials aren’t a homogenous mass. There’s no singular issue – or city – preventing young people from getting on the housing ladder.